If you have ever wanted to get the full effect of seeing a volcanic crater, Poas Volcano is the perfect place to do that. Poas volcano in Costa Rica has been closed for over a year due to eruptions. It is now opened, but the visiting experience is completely different than before. Here is everything you need to know about the new Poas Volcano experience.
History of Poas Volcano
Poas erupted from 1953 to 1956 before calming down for a long time. In 2009 there was some mild eruptive activity. Again in 2014 the volcano webcam captured a moment in which a dark cloud exploded over 1,00 feet in the air.
Things got real in April of 2017. On April 9th restrictions were placed to visitors due to an increase in toxic gasses. On April 12th there was an explosion which resulted in the park being permanently closed to visitors. On April 14th there were two eruptions which caused over 3 kilometers of gas and vapor. More explosions occured on April 16th.
The park is now reopened to visitors as of September 2018.
Important Info About Poas Volcano
OK, I have to be completely honest here, the new ticketing system is miserable. You are no longer able to purchase tickets for entry at the volcano entrance. Instead, you now need to purchase tickets online. I am not exaggerating when I say it took me a good 20 minutes to purchase these tickets.
The first thing you need to do is register for an account here. You need to click “check in” in the left bottom corner to register for an account. ↓
You will then have to fill in all of this info to sign up for an account. ↓
You will then receive and email with confirmation of your account. You can then head back to the SINAC website to purchase your tickets. You will need to select your wildlife area (Parque Nacional Volcan Poas) along with the date and time you want to visit. You then need to select the type of tickets you would like.
If you are not a Costa Rican resident you will select “adulto no residente” along with how many tickets you need. You can also select “nino no residente” if you are traveling with kids. You then need to click the “+” button for it register that item. It’s annoying…I know. ↓
Next I got an error message haha. I hit refresh and it brought me to the next page in this process. ↓
Final step! Yeay! You then need to add the identification info for every person you are traveling with. Putting in your passport number works just fine. I was thinking, “why do they need so much info from me!” but I guess it is just for safety and liability reasons.
Next, I suggest checking that all the info (number of people, dates, time) is correct. You then need to enter your credit card info and then you will be directed to a confirmation page.
Make sure you take a picture of your confirmation! I didn’t get my confirmation email until wayyyy later!
Now you are (finally) done. Pour yourself a drink. You deserve it!
When you get to the entrance of Poas volcano you just need to show them your confirmation email and they will let you through the front gates.
If you don’t want to deal with this whole online registration stuff, you can but tickets about five miles before Poas Volcano at Mirador restaurant. However, they charge $2 per ticket for them to register the tickets for you.
Also, they are just doing this whole online process for you, so if you have internet you can just do it yourself and save two dollars and deal with it yourself.
The first tour starts at 7:00am. The last tour for the day begins at 1:20 pm.
$15 per person for adults.
$5 per person for children.
If you are a Costa Rican resident the admission is 1,000 colones for adults and 500 colones for children.
Poas Volcano is located near the town of Alajuela, Costa Rica. This is great place to visit if you have a day after you land in Costa Rica or before you leave Costa Rica. It is an easy drive from the San Jose Airport.
The road to Poas Volcano National Park is well maintained and easy to navigate. However, it is very curvy in spots. I get car sick and this drive kills me every time. If you are prone to car sickness, just be prepared! To get to Poas you can just enter “Poas Volcano” in Waze or your GPS unit and you will likely have no problems getting there from Alajuela. Plus, there are plenty of signs along the road.
You need to pay $2 per car to enter the parking lot area. There is a large parking lot after you pass through the entry gate. Just keep in mind that you are required to park with your car facing out. This is for safety reasons. If the volcano erupts you need to be able to drive away quickly.
There is a bathroom at the visitors center. In the past, there was also a cafe, gift shop, and little museum at the visitors center. as of now, these are all still closed. However, I think they will be reopening soon. If you visit and these things are open, we would love if you could let us know so we can update this.
What to Wear
It can get chilly chilly up there! I suggest wearing long pants, sneakers, and layers on top. I usually wear a short sleeve shirt with a sweatshirt and rain jacket. Also, yes, you now get a fancy hard hat to add to your wardrobe for the day.
What to Bring
There is not much you need for the volcano besides yourself and a camera. However, you need to remember you will be at a very high altitude and the progression happens very fast.
I always bring a bottle of Gatorade with me. It seems to help a lot for when I’m just feeling weird from the altitude. There are tons of mini markets that you will pass on your way up to Poas. You can stop at any of them and grab a bottle.
Our Experience Visiting Poas Volcano
For those of you who have visited Poas before, you remember buying tickets for entry and then having the opportunity to explore on your own. That is no longer the case.
After parking, we walked to the visitors center where we were stopped by a park ranger. We were instructed that we had to wait for a group to gather before we could continue to the crater. After about 20 minutes we were all given hard hats and given safety instructions. We were then told we could walk as a group to the crater.
Unfortunately, the weather was horrible up there that day and we couldn’t see anything. The picture at the top of this article is from a few years ago before the volcano erupted. I am really curious what it looks like up there now, but we will have to visit on another day and hope we can get a better view. We only stayed there for about ten minutes (we couldn’t see anything so it felt kind of pointless) before we walked back to the car.
If you have been to Poas volcano national park in previous years, you likely remember the side trail to the former crater. That trail is currently closed. I have heard rumors that they may reopen it, but for now, that is not true. So, as of now, you can solely go to the crater for twenty minutes before returning.
Our Tips for Visiting Poas Volcano
In the past, we would always check the Poas weather through their live cameras online and spontaneously decide if the weather was good enough that day for visiting. Now, the cameras seem to be down.
However, if you are in the area and it seems like a clear day, you will probably be good to go. The things is though, the ticket purchasing process now is such a pain. I suggest setting up an account on the SINAC website ahead of time. That way, on the day of, you can try to quickly purchase a ticket online. You could also just cut your losses and pay the extra $2 per ticket to buy your tickets from the restaurant near Poas.
It seems that they allow 50 people in to see the Poas Volcano crater every 20 minutes. It shouldn’t fill up to the point that you can not get tickets on the day of. The only time this may be a problem is between January and April when tourism is a lot higher.
Also, keep in mind that the volcano tends to be at its most clear early in the morning. As the day goes on the clouds tend to move in.
I just feel like $15 is a lot of money to go and not be able to see anything at all. I don’t want you to be disappointed!
What to Do After Visiting Poas Volcano
There are so many great things to do near Poas Volcano! Here are just four of our absolute favorites. They are activities that only take a few hours or less. You could make a really fun action-packed day and combine them all!
Tour a Coffee Plantation
You will pass several coffee plantations on your way up to Poas. I suggest going to Doka Estate or the new Starbucks tour at Hacienda Alsacia. We have not done either of those particular tours, but we have visited the Starbucks.
If you are wondering what I am talking about, Starbucks has created its only coffee plantation tour in the world. The tour is not cheap (it’s $35 per person) but it seems to be very modern and it will probably be interesting to all you Starbucks lovers.
You can also just go there and sit in their beautiful Starbucks to drink a coffee. I definitely suggest stopping for that. The building does not have walls and has a really great view of a waterfall. Also, they have a crazy menu that is not offered at normal Starbucks shops. For example, I got a drink which was a shot of espresso in seltzer water with mint. It was definitely interesting!
However, the Doka tour is also supposed to be great. Also, we always love to support local companies. If you feel the same, Doka is probably the best option.
Eat Lunch at a Trucha
Visiting a trucha is one of our favorite non-touristy things to do in Costa Rica. The concept is that you go to a property with a restaurant and a small man-made lake on it. You are then given a line and some bait to try and catch a fish (trout) in the lake. Once you catch your fish you can go into the restaurant and they will deep fry your fish for you along with some side dishes (usually rice, beans, plantains, and salad). It usually costs about $10 for your meal and that includes your fishing experience.
The one we usually go to is called Restaurante Las Lluvias. They don’t have a website, but here is a map for you!
Buy Some Cheese and Strawberries
As I mentioned before, the area around Poas reminds me of Switzerland. I feel like the whole Switzerland of Costa Rica can’t be complete without buying some strawberries and cheese.
As you are driving up and back down from Poas you will notice tons of street-side vendors selling bags with a ball of cheese. They usually have big containers of strawberries as well.
Thomas loves the cheese. It kind of reminds me a big ball of salty string cheese (without the whole fakeness of string cheese). It’s definitely worth trying it out! Also, if you like strawberries, they are always excellent when bought here.
Walk Behind a Waterfall
This waterfall is located very close to Poas Volcano. You can pay to visit the La Paz waterfall gardens. It is supposed to be absolutely beautiful. We have never visited because it is a bit pricey. A park ticket is $44 for adults and $28 for children.
However, if you want a free experience, you can just park on the side of the road near La Paz and visit this waterfall. You can even walk behind it if you want. Be careful though, during rainy season it can be really wet and muddy.
We hope this helped you to plan the perfect day to Poas Volcano national park and the surrounding area. Let us know if you have any questions in the comment section below. We are always happy to help you out! Also, if you visit Poas, let us know how it went! We would love to pass on your tips to other travelers.
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